Calif. K-9 officer dies in car after air conditioning fails

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Friday, July 22, 2016
wpvi-Courtesy: Porterville Police Department

FRESNO, Calif. (WPVI) -- A California police department said it's devastated by the death of one of its K-9 officers. The dog's handler found the Belgian Malinois dead in his patrol car on June 20.

Porterville police said the officer put the dog named Idol in the vehicle with the air conditioning running so the K-9 could cool down while he worked inside his home. When the officer came back, an hour and a half later, he noticed the engine had shut off and found Idol dead inside.

Police said the car's warning system did not activate because the engine died.

The Tulare County Sheriff's Office investigated and wasn't able to determine what caused the engine to shut off.

Porterville police said they've inspected other K-9 vehicles, and they all checkout.

The chief said 4-year-old Idol was a good police dog and it's been very difficult for his handler.

"In his terms, his terms, it's like losing a kid. They've been together for two years," said Porterville Police Chief Eric Kroutil. This officer is one of our top officers. He's SWAT, he was our Officer of the Year last year for the department. He's a stellar officer, he pays attention to all the details. It's just a tragedy."

Porterville police are in the process of getting a new warning system for all K-9 vehicles, which includes a pager device to notify officers when it's too hot in the car.

The Tulare County District Attorney's Office reviewed the sheriff's report and determined Idol's handler will not face any criminal charges.